Over the last 12 months or so a number of Avid houses and smaller boutiques have moved their workflows onto the Avid Interplay environment.
Although there are additional setup stages and more time involved in the client installation, this initial effort is more than rewarded by the subsequent benefits that working within the Interplay environment brings. One of the main drivers for clients migrating their projects to Interplay is the functionality and flexibility they get from using the Media Central – Avid’s web based logging, review and editing tool.
That said, clients running version 8 of Media Composer were pegged at 8.2.3 as being the latest supported Interplay client while standalone edit suites were able to take advantage of the improvements in the 8.3 release. This source of frustration is now removed with 8.4 where Interplay support has been restored along with a host of new features and benefits for both Interplay and standalone users.
Custom projects i.e. the ability to type in a custom raster size, timeline quick find (search text in timeline) closed caption preview, XAVC-I native support and improvements to the MC Cloud experience are all crammed into this significant release. We are going to walk through a couple of these with you to explain their significance.
Media Composer 8.4 will bring new capability directly to those working with 4K media. A year ago, we did an informal survey of people working in 4K and found that although there were many companies with projects in the pipeline, not many productions were actually engaged in producing 4K work. This year, the number of active 4K jobs has risen dramatically, with many productions applying a 4K finish with a HD broadcast distribution copy. Thus the ability to link and play native QuickTime ProRes 2K/4K/UHD material is an important feature addition. Similarly, there is native support for Sony XAVC-I media using the latest Sony AMA plugin. The ability to link to media and playback in real-time is a real benefit to productions using that format.
As with all version 8 releases the Application Manager is installed by default on Windows and has improvements and enhancements. The application manager will continue to grow in importance for the management of subscription info, real time feed updates and update entitlements.
A very useful new addition is the ability to do a quick search in the timeline. Keywords can be searched and located using the timeline search box. This will search based on specified criteria, such as visible text, comments, markers or all clip data. When you search, the timeline position bar takes you to the search result position in the timeline parking on the searched for content, so it’s very quick to find elements in the sequence pane while you are working, especially with large complex sequences. The viewer windows can also now be made significantly larger than before. This is a real benefit when working in effects mode, and further to that there is a shortcut for switching between single and dual viewer layouts.
Although we mentioned QuickTime earlier, alpha support for QuickTime DNxHR is also now supported allowing the fast import of QuickTime wrapped DNxHR matte elements for use in MC, that’s a huge help to effect-driven setups where lack of alpha channel in the process severely hampers the edit workflow.
In closing there are many additional features, fixes and for some users, critical enhancements. But don’t rush into upgrading to 8.4 without first consulting the readme info, application manager and licensing guides as well as checking the hardware requirements before taking the upgrade steps.